Washington School Accused of Putting Autistic Boy's Desk in Bathroom as 'Quiet Learning Space'

A Washington middle school has been criticized for allegedly planning to seat a student with autism and an auto-immune disorder inside a bathroom.

Danielle Goodwin said her sixth-grade son Lucas, 11, needs a quiet environment to study as his condition can be triggered by loud noises. But she was shocked to find out the faculty's solution when she visited his classroom in the Whatcom Middle School on Monday.

According to a photo taken by the child's mother, shared with local media outlet KCPQ, his desk was placed over the top of a toilet, and his chair was in close proximity to the sink. The woman also claimed that staff put down a camping mat on the floor to sleep on if he needed to nap.

The teacher reportedly told the concerned mother there was no other option for the child.

"It's not an appropriate place for anyone, but especially for Lucas with his PANDAS condition, he can't be around germs. That's something that can really affect his body," the mother hit back, speaking to KOMO News."It smelled and just the thought of my son working his school day away in a bathroom was disturbing to me."

The child has reportedly been taken out of the school for now and has said he does not want to return. The student told KCPQ the situation with the proposed seating plan left him feeling scared, saying: "I thought this was going to be where I was for the rest of the year."

A representative for Bellingham Public Schools told Newsweek: "We have been continuing to fact-find and I be able to provide updated information soon."

A spokesperson told KOMO News that space in the middle school was limited and confirmed that a complaint had been filed with administrators on Thursday morning.

The Washington school district said in a statement: "We are continuing to look into this, but at this time, it appears that the restroom was set up as a possible separate quiet learning space, but no student was placed in there. The desk has been removed."

It added: "Staff at the school are aware that the space should not be used for that purpose in the future. While we aren't able to share specific details about our students, we can tell you that keeping our students safe and engaged in learning are our top priorities."

It was not clear if other Whatcom Middle School students with special needs had ever been placed into bathrooms. The district told KCPQ it was not aware of other cases.

Earlier this week, in California, a father said he was planning to sue Endeavor Middle School in Lancaster after his 11-year-old child with autism was found handcuffed by police roughly a mile away from the educational building. At a board meeting on Tuesday evening, Trevor Hibbert told administrators: "I'm calling you out. Our children deserve better."

This article has been updated with comment from a school representative.

Whatcom Middle School
Whatcom Middle School in Bellingham, Washington. Google Maps